Have you ever watched a professional football game where the receiver catches a pass in the end zone, spikes the ball and does a celebration dance?
Just once, I’d like to see him set the ball down, run back the offensive lineman who is laying on the ground and say, “Hey, great block. I couldn’t have done it without you!” Then he’d go to the quarterback and say, “Great throw!” To the coach, he’d say “Thanks for calling a great play!”
To successfully play that position, you have to be an incredibly gifted athlete who has worked hard to be in a position to make that catch. And maybe it was a great catch, a beautiful catch, a catch that few people could have made, but the truth is that receiver can’t do it alone. A lot of players and coaches did the right thing to put him in a position to make that great catch.
Isn’t this often the case in our workplaces? So many people contribute to a product or project and so few get the credit.
In 2007, one of our engineers in what is now our BW Papersystems company leveraged a chance meeting with a potential customer into an eventual sale. He was able to clearly articulate the benefits of our product line to that customer who was then very happy to meet with a sales executive. That sales executive was so appreciative of the engineer taking the time to go above and beyond the normal bounds of his job description, he wrote an e-mail to the entire team praising the individual for his work.
Now this took place during the early stages of our leadership journey at Barry-Wehmiller, but still we knew that we needed to find a way to recognize these unsung heroes. Many of whom never expect to be recognized for something they’ve done. For these folks, it’s all in a day’s work.
So we started something we call the High Five Program. It’s a way of recognizing a team member who goes above and beyond their normal call of duty to help the team achieve. Winners receive a plaque or trophy or small gift but the most satisfaction comes from the heartfelt words of the nominators or their peers.
Jane Harding of our BW Papersystems office in Hamburg, Germany recently received the High Five award for the technical specifications and accompanying support documentation for a potential sale of a paper sheeting and packaging line in China. There were around 100 documents in all and Jane also had to coordinate the effort with colleagues from various BW locations – USA, Indonesia, China, and of course, internally in Hamburg.
“It is demanding work, usually over a period of several weeks for something as complicated as this,” Jane said. “But very interesting and satisfying, especially when we win (the sale)!
“On the day I received the award I was completely taken by surprise, I had no idea beforehand that I had been nominated. I enjoyed sharing the moment with all my colleagues in Hamburg. The award for me is a tangible mark of recognition for my efforts. It is good to feel appreciated!”
Another recipient, Moroni Mills, a team member at Hudson-Sharp, our Thiele Technologies company in Green Bay, WI, had worked for months on a special presentation for two high-profile customers. This presentation was to be delivered by a senior leader from our company to our customers at a large industry trade show. Moroni was the driving force in putting this presentation together, as well as navigating some last-minute challenges.
In fact, one of the quotes from his nomination was from one of the customers who said that Moroni’s “Gentle persistent leadership and tireless efforts were truly above and beyond, and I am at a loss for how to best express our gratitude.”
Moroni had no idea he was getting the award and I was fortunate to be in town to help present it. He later said he was shocked when it was announced.
“The whole event was a memory that I’ll always remember and cherish,” Moroni said. “I feel that I was recognized for the work and dedication I put into all that I do with Hudson-Sharp, Thiele and Barry-Wehmiller. This award shows me that it is more than just the work I do, but that I as a person matter to this organization, which makes me want to dedicate myself more to this company.
“Many of us work hard and dedicate our time, talents and expertise to every aspect of our jobs without expecting anything extra in return. However, being recognized for that effort helps us feel valued and important. It also endears us to this company to provide even more effort and dedication, which in the long run is best for all involved.”
Leaders, next time you’re ready to celebrate with your own particular touchdown dance in the end zone, think about how you got there. I would bet that it wasn’t a solo effort. Think about what a simple act can mean to those who participated in this triumph. They want to know they matter, and sometimes, just a simple high five is a way to help them know that their work is appreciated.